Category Archives: greatest good for greatest number

Mirror, mirror on the wall ….

Here is some interesting food for thought. Do give it some thought and let me know what your thoughts on this are?

One can do service to humanity in many ways. Is there some particular path that is most meritorious?

Everybody has a view of the world. People take to different paths based on their own value system. What would your opinion be, on the best way to perform service to humanity? What is the best way to give back to society?

In this regard let us look at 5 different pursuits of people

The philanthropist and the altruist: These people usually are the benevolent rich. These people serve the society through the millions that they have rightly earned. A large portion of the ills of society like hunger, malnutrition, diseases, clean drinking water, and sanitation needs large funds. The philanthropists create foundations to address the key issues of the society. Some of the notable philanthropists’ are Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Azim Premji to name a few. Coming from the corporate side they bring a wealth of management techniques besides their large funds

The spiritual leader: Spiritual leaders typically provide wisdom to people. Spiritual leaders provide comfort and advice to people suffering mentally. The words of these leaders provide solace to a large number of people during their darkest hours. The words and advice is like a soothing balm to these tortured souls. They provide ways and techniques to lead a proper life. The Dalai Lama, the Pope, the Shankaracharyas   are example of this class of people.

The Social Worker: This is another class of people. They people put their heart and soul in addressing the evils of society. Whether it is the caste problem, child labor or fighting for the rights of the underprivileged the social worker works relentlessly to bring the injustices of society to light. They toil with their sweat and are tireless in their efforts. Some ardent social workers have also lost their lives in trying to fight the evils forces of society.

The Techno-Scientist: The Techno-scientist are another class of people. They do not work directly for the people. But their creations can impact a large class of people. Imagine a scientist who is able to genetically create varieties of cheap rice or wheat which can reduce hunger or a technologist who invents a technique for cleaner and cheaper sanitation. A cure for cancer or AIDS would save millions of lives. Technologists and scientists whose inventions and discoveries impact a large section of people are another class of people.

Artists,musicians,actors,sportsman: This class provide entertainment and are a major source of inspiration. The musicians through their music, sportsmen through their excellent achievements, the painter with an inspired piece relieve us from the drudgery of human existence. They are a very important class of people.

Which profession is the noblest? Which is the best pursuit in life?

I personally think all pursuits are fine. To some it may appear that a spiritual leader is the highest and noblest of all pursuits because they provide relief to the tortured spirit of humanity, I would like to say that a philanthropist who attacks issues like starvation and diseases is also doing yeoman service. Spiritual solace or wisdom are meaningless to the millions of starving or poverty stricken people in India or Africa. Similarly a social worker who fights for the rights of the downtrodden is as great as the techno-scientist who makes our lives better, more convenient or discovers drugs that solve virulent diseases.

I would prefer to look at this through the lens of utilitarianism which proposes that the best pursuit is one which provides maximum benefit to the maximum number.

What are your thoughts?

The Tao of Human Behavior

Are there fundamental principles or laws that govern human behavior? If there are what would they be? In my opinion right human behavior should be based on sound values of character which I state as “The Tao of Human Behavior”.

Tao originated in Chinese philosophy and can be loosely defined as “the way”, ‘doctrine” or principle. Clearly there are certain ways that enable one to lead a more full life.

The essence of right behavior can be captured in the following 3 laws

The Law of Immutable Values: This law requires that human action be based on sound principles of integrity, kindness, compassion, tolerance and humility.  This law requires that all human action be based on above values. Action based on values will ensure good providence or karma and will ensure enduring happiness.

The Law of Greatest Good: This law ensures that in any given situation when there is conflict among the immutable values as specified in Law 1, the value that provides the greatest good will be chosen among others. This law implies that, in real life, there will be delicate situations where there will be conflict of principles for e.g. there could be a situation where there is a conflict of honesty versus kindness or another where there is a conflict of tolerance versus correctness. In these situations when there is conflict among several values, the course of action taken should be based on ensuring that the act provides the greatest good for the longest time.

The Law of Greatest Good to Greatest Number (dharma): Implicit in this law is  that society takes precedence over the self in deciding action. Also this law requires that action taken must be such that it provides the greatest good to the greatest number. This law clearly places the world at large above the individual. Action based on this law will be selfless. However, sometimes the path taken can never make everybody happy. So this law requires that action should be based on providing the greatest benefit to the largest number by choosing an appropriate action based the second law.

These laws are based on good human behavior and sound conduct and have proven value and are the essence of right action passed to us through the ages.

If all human action is based on the above 3 laws, human society at large can be peaceful.